The general view today of college is a place of heavy drinking culture and partying all night. Many students now go to college to binge drink and party. These students and athletes are turned into a nameless face in a sea of people constantly drunk, which creates problems such as court cases, dropouts, and sometimes death. As a college student now, I have seen many instances of alcohol consumption that changed students who I’ve met so far and persuaded me to no longer consider some people I once called a friend. This has been tough emotionally to have to decide that a friend has turned into someone that I don’t want to see or be around. Even though alcohol is emblematic as the reaching of adulthood in college, many seem to climb that tower a little too early than they are meant to. Tragically, this can cause some to come crashing down and few to reach realization of their trouble before it is too late. But there are a few that see that this as just immaturity and students will grow out of it.
As I look around now, I see that I am not at a school with a strong influence of alcohol, even though it is still present. I have seen students make decisions that they regret for weeks or even months on end, while some feel, as they lay awake in a hospital bed, that they should never drink again. A year ago, a couple of my friends were partying in a room, but some kids were having a little too much, three of whom ended up in the hospital. One had to stay for two days and the other two needed to have their stomachs pumped. Many students do not see the problems of binge drinking until the next day. Students who partake in underage drinking at college just want to feel as if they are now adults and be among a higher social group. This leads them to start drinking every day, every week, becoming the ‘party animal’ that they see in movies or hear about in stories about the average ‘college experience.’ Many students who start and continue in underage drinking have a high “risk of serious social, medial, and legal problems” (O’Malley). Many of these problems not only affect the student, but also the school that they attend. If there is a court case for drunk and disorderly conduct, it can also look bad on the institution that the student attends. This can cause scholarship losses and people losing their chances of doing something important in life.
Risks of legal and social problems are not the only problems students face. Problems also occur on campus and in classes. Constant drinking can lead to “impaired performance at school or work; interpersonal problems with friends, family members, teachers, and supervisors” (O’Malley). I have seen many students struggle in class or drop out of a class because they couldn’t function properly as a result of a party the night before. Early this year in my history class, I could tell who had been drinking the night before. This person would not be able to keep up with what was going on in class. Later, I would no longer see this person in class. After a month I had found out that the student had dropped out of school and went back home. This is really unfortunate, because the parents of this person had clearly hoped that college would be a place for their child to learn, grow, and enhance the option of future employment. Some students actually do not work and just sleep in class trying to fight being hungover from over drinking the night before. Sadly, they think that coming into class with a hat pulled down on their face with sunglasses on, trying to fight the headaches, the spinning, and the nausea that haunted them all day will not be noticed. This caused some great students to fall to the bottom of the social ladder in classes, and potentially face the possibility of dropping out of school and having to go home empty handed, not rising to their potential.
Studies have taken place all over the world trying to understand what kind of influence alcohol has on students and people. A study at the University of York shows that the police and the parole board “estimate half of all premeditated crime is alcohol related” (McDonnell). This goes to show that most of crime and uncivil accidents have been caused by the influence of alcohol on the mind of students. Most of the court cases and honor boards that happen at universities are in response to alcohol related incidents, such as vandalism, rape, assault, breaking and entering, and theft. Many universities know that this type of abuse of alcohol is happening on campus, but can’t seem to do much about it because it will happen no matter what. For example, there was an incident with a student and her boyfriend at Oxford involving alcohol and a court case. She became angry and stabbed him in the leg when “he realized she had been drinking” (BBC). While incidents like this one happen on college campuses, the girl in this case was forced to spend ten months in jail after the court case. The sad reality is that a case like this rarely deters college students, and these events do happen and most of the times involve alcohol. People who aren’t able to see how alcohol affects them are at more of a disadvantage of preventing accidents and criminal activity.
Many consider alcohol harmless and a pleasure to have while at college. Often student feel that booze allows them to let loose after a hard week or day at classes. While I can agree with the stress factors, many just put that up as an excuse to hide or avoid confrontations of serious accidents. Blame is then directed at the students for not knowing how to drink responsibly. This is a valid argument, but they don’t see what the true danger of drinking or even binge drinking has on a campus. At the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers have discovered that on an average day “4 college students die in accidents involving alcohol. An additional 1,370 suffer injuries tied to drinking, the study says, and an estimated 192 are raped by their dates or sexually assaulted after drinking” (Schemo). This shows how drinking can stir trouble or even be the cause of people doing things that they never would do in a sober state of mind. Many students would blame their guilt upon the alcohol and then the schools would sweep their problem under the rug.
Alcohol has caused many problems and terrible accidents across campuses all around the world. I have seen these effects first hand. I would like to point out the common issue that causes these problems. I believe that banning alcohol on campuses would not solve the problem at hand; rather, I believe better alcohol education is the key. I share all of this to remind my fellow students to be responsible and careful with how you use the alcohol that you drink. I hope that we can come to a better understanding of the dangers of alcohol and use it more responsibly.
BY ZACHARY WENNIK